A Rock Feels No Pain

In despero , obscurum ; In Diligo , Lux lucis. (In despair, darkness; In Love, Light). -Me

Somebody’s Knockin’… I won’t let ‘im in

Funny, how even when things are going so well, I can sometimes feel that old, cold feeling attempting to come back. There’s no rationality to depression, of course- that’s why it’s called an illness, right? If it were sane, why, then I wouldn’t be a cashew, and you wouldn’t be putting me in the category of a nut. Not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with cashews, or nuts in general- except when there is.

I’ve been thinking lately about the true insanity that comes into play, when the only visible logical rational course, is to die. It’s come up a few times in the last month or so, and I need to blather about it, I guess. Some people will run into setback after setback, job loss, business closing, homes burning, whatever, with a mental shrug and a move on. Others can slide into a dark cold place, when home is going along fine, work is great, and the kids are doing wonderfully.

The first time, I was speaking to a group of people at church, and one of the guys there was struggling to understand, and commented along these lines:

What I don’t understand, is how it can get so bad that you think leaving your family, your loved ones, is at all possible. I know that all I have had to do is remember my family, and no matter what it was that I was struggling with, I knew that I had them, and that I had to persevere, just because of them.

My response to Rob, was, “That’s the insanity of it. I didn’t care, because the twisted convoluted distorted thinking, is that they would be better off without me. The complete irrationality of my mindset, then, is what is so deadly, so scary dangerous. Pointing a truck at a bridge, and scraping the abutment at 95+ MPH, is not a sane thing to do; nobody in their right mind would think that it is. The problem, of course, is that when I aimed the truck, I wasn’t in my right mind, and what to me, today, is unthinkable- well, then, that was a perfect solution.”

Later that week, I was on the phone with my oldest friend, and she was sharing some of her concerns and struggles with her husband, and what she believes is his own depression. I was trying to make clear to her that there’s nothing that she has “done”, or “not done”, that caused him to be depressed. As much as we tend to take on this role, it’s vital to remember that this is a disease that can be treated, but not a contagious virus that you gave to someone. It’s not helpful to tell someone “you have it great, look at all the good things you’ve got…”. If we were rational, that might work, but the whole illness is irrational, so all she can do is love him, and encourage him to get help, and if it comes to it, she can call for help herself, on his behalf.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I was talking to another friend who is in a world of hurt right now. She’s attempting to find meds and a therapist she can trust, struggling to survive as best she can, and she asked me “How did you keep from just giving up?”

Those words are terrifying to me.

I don’t know that *I* did keep from giving up.

I wrote here and here, about how I managed to survive, and to get the help I needed to overcome the immediate crisis, and the long-term (longish? 3 years? How long til it’s long-term?) ability to keep on breathing.

If I think back, I can so clearly feel the emptiness, the cold darkness that I lived in. I can still feel the invisibility cloak that draped over me, I can hear that insidious whisper in the background, telling me that there is peace, there is a way to not hurt, to not feel pain, all I have to do is find the blade, turn the wheel, listen and it’s all still and no more struggling…

All I could do, is share with her how I had felt, and what happened, and try to articulate the difference that I feel now; to try to express that I *know* how she’s feeling, I’ve been there too, and that yes, there is a way to feel peace, and not hurt, that doesn’t involve blades and trucks or pills or high places with sudden impacts. That there is help, and she’s already started the hard part of it, which is to know she’s “nuts”, and work to get better.

I hope I was able to articulate that to her, somewhat.

It made me feel completely unprepared and inadequate, though, so today I did a bit of research and found a resource that I’d been toying with for quite a while now. I looked and found a place to offer myself for training, to work on one of the crisis-help lines, to try to help someone that might be hurting the way I was. I’d like to see if I can be there for another as the 1800 ladies were there for me.

So, take that, Black Thing. I’ll not only beat you on my own personal battlegrounds, I’ll train to join in and fight you on someone else’s battleground too. And, I’ll say F-You, while I’m at it, with a smile and a prayer of gratitude for being given the chance.


Filed under: "cuckoos nest", "mental illness", Black Thing, bridge, depression, progress, razor blade, , , ,

Skipping ahead, and back, and around- and it’s good

I’m skipping ahead, from where I stopped last post. Why? Because it’s my blog, and I can! Okay, so really, it’s because this week- tomorrow, actually- marks the one year anniversary of an event that has been on my mind lately. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget dates, I’ve written about that before- but either way, since I don’t seem to be able to get it out of my head, I thought I’ll share a bit here, and see if it helps.

I wrote about this, sort of, on my return, here:
But, I’d never particularly said what it was that threw me into said tailspin. Last year, about the time we we were redecorating my daughter’s room, I was doing something or other to Lynn’s computer. While doing that, I had seen some things that indicated that an attachment to one of her gaming friends had gone beyond just good friends, and it tossed me backwards, and down.

Good old black thing, seeing this, reared up it’s ugly, cold self, and tried once again to swallow me up. By that night, I was a complete, gibbering, useless emotional wreck. (Do you know that even knowing that it’s an illness, etc, and all that- it’s really not easy to admit to falling apart like that?) (Good thing I know you wont tell anyone, huh?) There was very little room for any forms of rational thought, nor was there any space being left for what I KNEW I should be doing, namely praying and letting God take this on. I have a hard time with that, though, which is one of the things that the depression both causes, and feeds upon. When you feel useless, and worthless, and unable to consider any value in yourself- well, then, why would God? After all, He knows better than anyone just how worthless I am, right?

It’s a nasty, vicious, icky cycle, and about the only good thing I can say for it, is that it certainly does keep you from doing things. Oh yes, if you want to have no ability to function, then go for the depression. Other than that? No, not-so-good.

Anyway, I was falling apart, completely. I had fallen so fast, and so deeply, that Lynn felt the need to hide the car keys, and to move medicines, and to keep a careful eye on me, in case I found a knife, or a razor. That terror, that fear in her eyes, was about the only thing that could have, that finally did, penetrate. I knew, somewhere, someplace inside, that even through the mistrust and anger I was feeling towards her, and her friend, and my own uncertainty about what that meant for our relationship- I knew that I hated that look even more than I hated myself.

Now, a couple years ago, I may well have made the determination that I could eliminate the look, if I eliminated myself. How extremely logical, no? No fear in your wife’s eyes, if you’re not around to have a wife anymore, right?

Thankfully, the God that I just KNEW found me useless and worthless, didn’t. No, once again, He whispered, he reminded me that I was still around for a reason, and that even if I didn’t understand that reason, He did; and He’d let me know why when I was ready to hear it, but that right now, tonight, I needed to stay alive, and here’s the handy solution. Harder solution, yes- but the right one. He told me, get going, dude-

So, I checked into the nut-hut (Behavioral Psychology Medicine Unit, for those that insist on boring, uninteresting names for things). I spent just under a week there, working with the Docs and Nurses, and the counselors and other patients. Something very unsettling, about realizing that the reason the orderlies come into the room every 20 minutes, is to make sure you’re not dead; yes, the whole ward was monitored, basically on a suicide watch, the entire time, every one of us.

I’ll tell you this though, as I reflect over the past year, look back on that day. I am much, much stronger than I was then, much healthier. I know this, because of something that happened just three weeks ago. I was going to start the car, warm it up before church, so went to get the keys from Lynn’s purse. Can you imagine the smack in the face I felt, when I found a couple of phone-calling-cards, and two pictures of the guy from a couple years ago, that had nearly ripped us apart? Yeah, that guy. The one that “I’ve not spoken to, chatted with, thought of, in xxxxx time.”

Yeah, the one that during the first seven months of what I call the Hell Time, was a repeated occurance. Lies, evasions, half-truths, but never actually stopping contact.

That, was a nasty, ugly slap in the face. Every old feeling, all the old fears and jealousy and anger, plus the new anger that arose, thinking that all this time, all the work we’d been doing, all the professions of love and newly rekindled relationship, was all false.

But- and this, my friends, is the much more interesting part, to me- I’m still here. I didn’t spiral into a suicidal depression; I didn’t leave; I didn’t kill myself, or her, or him. In fact, I managed to get to church, and do what I needed to do: I prayed. I prayed to God, to let me see what and why this was back, what I needed to do, what was he wanting from or for me.

And, once again- He answered. He answered through the conversation I had with Lynn, later that day, when instead of leaving, I listened. Seems, the purse she’d grabbed from the closet the day before was an old one, not her current one; she needed to use something, because she’d left hers in the car, and it was with one of the kids. So, she grabbed this one, tossed her wallet and keys in it, and did whatever. Forgetting to get the other one from the car, well, who cared? Her point, was that the photos, the calling cards, were old and outdated. They were not anything she kept intentionally, nothing that she cared about.

As we talked, I fought the unease, the disbelief, the doubts that were there, and did my best to listen with the knowledge that I’d gained in the last two years. Knowledge of her love, through the looks she gives me, of the laughing and fun and joy we’ve re-found; of the love, of the play, of the sex and the giddy silliness that we’ve been sharing, all of these things were in my head as I listened, and tried to counter the ugly, horrible, outdated feelings.

And, my friends- I won. It worked, that time the black thing didn’t stand a chance. By that night, we were wrapped in one another’s arms, entwined and loving one another, making love, hugging, talking. Sharing, as we’ve learned to, the bad times- and rejoicing in the good times, celebrating in love, and fighting off the bad.

Totally different reactions, from one year to another; from one guy, to another guy, from a real threat, to an imagined threat, to a past threat, and once more, God told me to stick around, that He’s not done with me yet. As I was thinking about last year, and what a horrible time it was, how depressed I was, I also couldn’t help noticing something else; Yesterday, in the car, I was singing to Beth and Lynn, singing along with a cd we’d made years ago.

Perhaps you know the song, “I can see clearly now”. Well, the line I loved, and actually repeated, because it seemed so fitting: “I think I can make it now, the pain is gone…
All of the bad feelings have disappeared…
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for…
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright sun shiney day.”

Works for me.

Filed under: "cuckoos nest", "mental illness", anniversary, Black Thing, depression, God, lynn, meanderings, progress, razor blade, , , ,

As good as it gets?

“What if this is as good as it gets?” I was struck by that, and put it up in my sidebar, because at the moment, I can do very little: no firefighting, no sailing, no golf, very little of anything that entails anything heavier than a notebook computer. This is going to mean no waterskiing (not that I do that much, or am good at it), no overhead painting (which is very, very key, because of the projects we have lined up). No installing a fireplace at the cabin this summer, unless I can get someone else to do all the work. No tree cutting, no firewood, no skiing this winter? Ugh.

Anyway, all of that is why I had the quote up.

The other day, though, Lynn and I were sharing a little pillow-talk about that, and a comment or question she made got me to thinking about what our life and marriage is now, and what it was, and where it is going. Add onto that a blog entry that I encountered, and a couple of talk-radio interviews, and my brain really started to spin in overdrive.

The stories, both on a talk show, both had to do with people’s reactions to a partner deceiving them, and how they had individually dealt with the knowledge and its’ aftermath.

The pillow-talk was related to that quote, but as we talked, the conversation morphed (as conversations do), into thinking about that question in relation to our marriage, and where we are heading both individually and in partnership. At the moment, my answer was “so what if it is as good as it gets, that’s okay, because we’re still talking, growing ever closer, sharing more and more.”

But, what if that progress were to stop? If I glibly answer “it’s fine, because we’re progressing”, I’m assuming something: that “this is as good as it gets” isn’t a fixed point, as the statement implies. No, I’m interpreting it in light of my own wants and needs and desires for improvement in our relationship. Effectively, I’m dodging the question. Or, maybe I was answering the question, “What if this rate of progress is as good as it gets?” instead of “What if this relationship is as good as it gets?”

So, what if I consider this, in light of our relationship, and try not to dodge but instead articulate what some of the specific questions might look like, if I put them into that quote:

What if our future forever holds chatting, cybering and phoning? Including the deletion of files and calls, in an attempt to hide their occurrence?
What if our future forever holds omissions and minimizations, if not outright lies? For that matter, what if it includes lies?
What if I will forever have to wonder and speculate about who, and when and what?
What if there are relationships formed that I’m not privy to nor involved in, one after the other, that are much more intimate than would be comfortable, should I know about them? And, does that actually matter?
What if the boy toy thing is permanent?
What if the sneakiness never stops?
What if the look I get whenever I touch any computer but this one is forever, to the point that I don’t want to use them, because my dislike of her fearful looks is to intense?
What if our sex continues to be fantastic, with new and more intense adventures all the time?
What if my heart continues to race when I see her, or think of her?
What if I sleep better than I have in years, because we’re cuddling close again?
What if I miss her so much I hate going to work, not because work is bad but because it’s going to be so long until I can see her again?
What if we continue to call each other on the phone, for no other reason than because we want to hear the other, and say “I love you”?
What if I feel that I can share anything in my heart and mind, however vulnerable it may make me, knowing that she’s safe to confide in, even the silliest dreams don’t get laughed at?
What if we continue to stretch our horizons, making new friends and finding new things to do together?
What if … ?

Of course, these questions are my questions, colored by my heart and mind and all, and looked at from my point of view. Lynn would probably have her own list of questions, perhaps:

What if he’s forever suspicious and distrustful?
What if I can never have him touch a computer without wondering if he’ll overreact to something?
What if I always have to justify a friendship?
What if … ?

I don’t know what others she might ask, I can’t speak for her. This little list is more my acknowledgement that this is a relationship, there are two people involved and none of it is black-and-white. At least, in my mind it’s not, nor should it be. Because if I discount and ignore that she would have her own concerns, then I’d be far more selfish and self-centered than I’d like to think of myself as being.

What are the answers to these? I don’t know, specifically, in all the instances. I don’t know if they are a balance. Can you take two parts of my paranoia to one part of her incredible sharing, shake them together and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and call it done?

I don’t know the answers to so many things, but sometimes I need to articulate the questions, just for my own thinking and reflecting.

I do know this, though- the progress we’ve made, the incredible, awesome journey back to one another has been an adventure with ups and downs, but at this moment, as long as the rate of progress is still so phenomenal, I think I’ll stick with the overall question:

“What if this rate of progress is as good as it gets?”

Filed under: growth, love, marriage, progress, relationship

Wandering Thoughts

“I’m not saying that you’ll ever forget, but if you are working on R {reconciliation} you need to forgive, sometimes daily.”
-From an internet support forum, for infidelity.

Lynn mentioned something about that a couple of weeks ago, how she feels that I haven’t forgiven, that she’s still under the microscope, despite what I wrote about here.

My reaction to that comment was that when I wrote this, I meant it- but that the reoccurring contacts occurred after that time, over and over again, and each time it brought the pain and hurt and feelings of betrayal up all over again, so is it surprising that my reactions would be similar?

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about trust and forgiveness lately, particularly in the post-class time; I have been making conscious decisions, to not let some of the things bother me, to the best of my ability. Lynn is going to do what she wants to do (or, not do what she doesn’t want), I can’t change that fact; so, I’ve been trying really hard to let it go, when it comes up. Sometimes, it’s harder than others, but if I can keep reminding myself of the serenity prayer, it helps.

“Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change… The Courage, to change the things I can… And the Wisdom to know the difference.”

Serenity, is a struggle- I find myself wanting to fix things, to change what’s going on, to call for “Do Over!” None of which is productive, of course, just futile thrashing about, mentally and emotionally.

Courage, I’m sadly lacking, in a lot of cases;

Wisdom- well, wisdom. I have none. I wish I did, maybe then I’d understand why some days are so much easier than others, why sometimes the exact same set of events can drive me crazy, and an hour later be wonderful- or, at least, indifferent.

**

The portion of this post above the stars was written about 10 days ago, but was put on hold until now. On the Friday night of the Fire Company dinner, which was the evening of the day I’d started this post, when we’d had a wonderful time (at the dinner, and afterward, on the way home 😉 ), we were going to use this computer and do a little playing together, continuing the evening. All good, right?

Well, maybe not so much. Earlier that day, as I was writing the first part of this, I had been perusing the survivinginfidelity.com website, where I came across the passage quoted above, in the thread on reconciliation. That part is fine, but I had the site open as I was getting the quote, so on our return home when she opened the computer and signed in, the first thing she was greeted with was a website that, as she put it, “Slapped her in the face with what she had done…”

Now, I should say that I read here fairly frequently, although I post little, because it helps me to see and know that others have struggled through this, that there is a way to make a relationship even stronger than before, better than it ever was. Indeed, that although both people will be forever changed by an affair, that it can make you much more loving and supportive than you ever dreamed possible.

Unfortunately, Lynn didn’t take it that way.

She assumed that I was reading because it was still fresh, that I was using the site to vent or moan or bitch about her, or whatever her assumption was, and the next hour was tears and recriminations and explanations, etc, etc. She did settle down, and listen to how I use the site, and says she believes me, but I get the feeling that there is still some lingering doubt in her mind.

Why am I writing about this now? Because I’m still having troubles with the whole trust and forgiveness question that brought me there in the first place. I believe that there hasn’t been contact with the asshole, but because so much of where it all started is online, and phone, and all, every time she’s using the computer or talking to one of her boy-toys, I wonder.

Is this what our relationship is going to be now, going forward and forever? Will I have to always wonder, always speculate about who she’s talking to now, how intense is this one going to be?

So, forgiveness- one of the things that I’ve learned, is that it is a process, not a simple switch to be thrown. I don’t have angry, resentful thoughts when I think of Lynn, I have loving, caring and warm thoughts- which, based on a lot of reading and seeing what others have said on the subject, is a key factor. I don’t dwell on past events, reliving or stoking righteous anger, which also matches. I don’t fixate on what Lynn is “doing now”, although I still have moments of jealousy, I think I’ve gotten much, much better about dealing with them.

I don’t spy on her, or tap her phone, or search her emails or computer, (although I do still have her archive her chats, so if I do have a moment that I need to see what’s happening, I can ask her to sign in and see).

All of these things, to me anyway, are signals that I’m working through the past events, and moving forward. Looking forward, working now, I’m much better about just telling her, “I’m having a bad moment/day/night…” or, “I’m feeling sad/angry/jealous/worried…”

And, so often, we talk, we cuddle, we hold hands, we share our thoughts and feelings as we used to, we make love more now than we had in years and years, and certainly in far more adventurous ways and places and times.

So, a lot of rambling thoughts, which is good ‘cuz this is my meandering mind, but the bottom line is that the process is ongoing, but I truly and deeply feel that we’re making good progress, that we’re taking positive steps, and that in a few years, we’ll laugh together at how far we’d managed to drift, and how much better we are doing now.

Filed under: progress, relationship

Progress

The newest med seems to be better than either of the other two, thankfully. Wellbutrin didn’t work enough, but it was so vastly better than without, I stayed on it for longer than I should have, probably. I was so scared to switch, in case the next one didn’t work as well, that I’d end up back down in a hole. Silly, really, because many people have to try a whole slew before the one that works best for them is found, but I never, ever want to find myself where I was last July. I thank God daily for four things, from that morning:

A fender bender, that brought out a volunteer Rescue company and Fire Department, that happened to be on the other side of the thruway as I went by.

The post-secret book, which had the number to the people who help you avoid the nut-hut, and/or, never having the chance to get to the nut-hut.

Lynn.

Mostly, Lynn. She and I talked for a long time, and she was so patient, and loving and worried, that it was impossible not to at least make the next calls, to try.

So I used Wellbutrin for three months, and although I was better, it was still a struggle. Lynn finally was able to convince me that it was okay to try another, that she’d watch me, that I’d be watching myself, that the therapists and doctors would also be monitoring.

Ugh. Lexapro sucked. No other word for it, unless it’s to reiterate how awful it is. Nausea, diarrhea, total and complete lethargy, sleeping in fits and spurts, unable to focus, even sex wasn’t working very well. That one, I hung on for three weeks, called the crazy Doc and told him, “Unh Uh, No more!”

Thankfully, the first five days of Effexor haven’t been anything like that. My guts seem normal now, I still feel a little wonky-tired now and then, but at least so far, the worst side effect is random insomnia, and I can deal with that, mostly. Not sure about the sex life or the weight changes yet, too soon, so I’ll be watching that. (Carefully, you can be sure! ;p )

It remains to be seen if it will be more effective than Wellbutrin, as far as dealing with the actual depression; but, even the Lexapro seemed to help substantially more with that, or at least Lynn reports seeing the occasional sparkle is back.

I think, too, it’s very helpful to know that even if this one isn’t it, I can swap safely, that the black thing won’t get to reach up and grab me if I have to skip a few days between, to let one dissipate before taking the next. I wont be so reluctant to switch, if necessary, the next time.

It’s also true that time passing is helpful. With every day that goes by, I’m further away from the deathly cold places, and that makes a tremendous difference. I still have moments, even hours or days, that are hard, but they’re getting shorter, and much, much less intense than they were. True, too, this fall was just plain a son-of-a-bitch to get through- and I’ve learned from some of the support forums I’ve been reading, that any one of the events I’ve been dealing with have triggered the need for anti-depressants alone, much less starting from as dark as I’d become.

So, I watch myself closely, and make sure Lynn is watching me, and keep on picking my sorry ass up if I fall, and hope it keeps on getting easier. Generally, things are lookin’ up, I’d say.

Filed under: depression, medication, progress

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